Rocky Mountain National Park is a hiker's dream come true. With more than 300 miles of trails, spectacular vistas and breathtaking alpine lakes, it's no wonder that the park attracts millions of visitors each year. If you're planning a trip to this wilderness wonderland , consider embarking on one of these top 5 full day hikes that will leave you awestruck and inspired.
1. Sky Pond Trail (8.6 miles round trip, 1,771 ft elevation gain)
Sky Pond Trail is a fantastic option for experienced hikers seeking a challenge. Starting at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, this hike takes you past some of the park's most iconic sights, including Alberta Falls and the Loch. The final destination is Sky Pond, a stunning alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks. The last section of the trail requires some scrambling, so be prepared for an adventure!
2. Longs Peak Trail (13.5 miles round trip, 4,934 ft elevation gain)
Longs Peak, the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park, is a true bucket-list 14er hike. This challenging route is not for the faint of heart, but the incredible views from the summit make it well worth the effort. The trail is well marked and well maintained, but it's important to start early, as afternoon storms are common. Bring plenty of water, wear sturdy hiking boots, and prepare for the possibility of encountering snow and ice. Always Leave No Trace.
3. Flattop Mountain & Ptarmigan Point (15.5 miles round trip, 3,192ft elevation gain)
The Flattop Mountain and Ptarmigan Point trail offers a challenging yet rewarding hike that provides stunning panoramic views. Beginning at the Bear Lake Trailhead, the hike to Flattop Mountain is a steady climb through forests, meadows, and rocky terrain. From Flattop, continue on to Ptarmigan Point, where you'll be treated to unbeatable views of the Continental Divide and the surrounding park.
4. Chasm Lake Trail (8 miles round trip, 2,552 ft elevation gain)
For a slightly shorter but equally awe-inspiring hike, consider the Chasm Lake Trail. This hike begins at the Longs Peak Trailhead and leads you through forests and alpine meadows before reaching the breathtaking Chasm Lake. The lake is situated at the base of Longs Peak's famous east face, known as the Diamond. Take a moment to appreciate the sheer beauty of the surrounding landscape before making your descent.
5. Ouzel Falls and Bluebird Lake (13.3 miles round trip, 2,782 ft elevation gain)
Starting at the Wild Basin Trailhead, the Ouzel Falls and Bluebird Lake hike takes you through lush forests and past cascading waterfalls. After admiring Ouzel Falls, continue onward to the serene Bluebird Lake, nestled in a picturesque alpine basin. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including moose, elk, lynx and a variety of bird species.
**Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry Permit**
In response to increased visitation and to preserve the natural resources and visitor experience, Rocky Mountain National Park has implemented a Timed Entry Permit system for 2023. This system is designed to manage visitor access while ensuring the safety and enjoyment of the park.
The Timed Entry Permits allow visitors to enter the park during specific two-hour windows of availability from 6 am to 5 pm, and they are required for all areas of the park, from May 26 to October 10, 2023. Outside these times, visitors can enter the park without a permit.
Rocky Mountain National Park is truly a hiker's paradise, offering trails that cater to all skill levels and interests. These 5 full day hikes showcase some of the park's most stunning scenery and will create memories that last a lifetime. As always, remember to practice Leave No Trace principles, and be prepared with the proper gear and knowledge to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.